Santa Fe's Historian Looks Ahead from Controversial Past

Historians in the News
tags: memorials, New Mexico, monuments, public history, Santa Fe

There may never have been a more important time for Santa Fe to appoint a new city historian.

Valerie Rangel steps into the position at a key moment for the city, as it attempts to address public art and cultural woes through its newly minted Culture, History, Art, Reconciliation and Truth process, commonly known as CHART.

Though city historian is a role that’s been largely honorary and typically under the radar, Rangel, 44, said she sees the position evolving against the backdrop of simmering tensions over race, history and public monuments.

And despite the controversies, she said she’s ready to help unpack some of Santa Fe’s difficult history.

“I really wanted to tell hidden truths and share knowledge that should be known and uplift the voices of those community,” she said.

Rangel, who came to New Mexico in 1999 and to Santa Fe in 2007, said she didn’t plan to participate as a facilitator in the upcoming conversations under the CHART umbrella but feels she has something to both add and gather from the process’ community engagement efforts.

There’s much to discuss: Emotions spilled over on Indigenous Peoples Day 2020, when a group of protestors pulled the Soldiers’ Monument — which has long drawn the ire of some Native Americans for a plaque that once included the words “savage Indians” — from its pedestal in the middle of the Plaza. That incident was preceded a few months earlier by a controversial decision to remove a statue of Spanish conquistador Don Diego de Vargas from Cathedral Park.

The city has gone a little over a year without a historian. Andrew Lovato was last appointed to the position in 2018. Before him, Ana Pacheco held the role until 2017. It’s a two-year commitment, and pays $5,000 a year.

Read entire article at Santa Fe New Mexican

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